Supporting Navy families through deployment

Published on Ms Rachel Bowman (author), LSIS Richard Cordell (photographer)

Topic(s): Health, Fitness and Wellbeing, Defence Community Organisation

Family members wave in excitement as HMAS Sheean returns home to Fleet Base West, Rockingham, WA. (photo: LSIS Richard Cordell)
Family members wave in excitement as HMAS Sheean returns home to Fleet Base West, Rockingham, WA.

While usually rewarding for members, deployments and other absences can be a stressful and challenging time for some families. With many Navy members deployed on exercise and operations, Defence Community Organisation has developed a new webinar series for members and their families called ‘Deployment: embracing the challenge’.

Commander David Gayford, Deputy Director Military Support at Defence Community Organisation, said the webinar series will provide families with a range of information and practical tips for managing before, during and after deployment.

“The four-part webinar series starting this month covers the phases of deployment, the planning families can make pre-deployment, tips and strategies for members and their families during deployment and also the preparations families can make for their member’s return when the deployment is over,” Commander Gayford said.

“The extraordinary events of 2020, with the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic, has only increased the stressors on many members and their families. This webinar series provides a great opportunity to get a range of useful information from the comfort of home,” he said.

The Defence Community Organisation website also has a wide range of information for members and their partners and parents about deployment and absence from home.

One of the most helpful resources available on the website is the absence from home support handbook.

“The handbook provides a range of information about how members and their families can prepare practically and emotionally, as well as tips for staying positive and how to help kids during deployment,” Commander Gayford said.

The handbook also includes a Member and Family Care Plan which has a checklist of important family information like Defence and Navy contacts.

It also details the personal administration to be completed before leaving on deployment, relevant family medical and education information and other useful contacts and information for insurance, banking, vehicle and home maintenance.

“Things can go wrong when the member is deployed and sometimes their partner doesn’t know all the details of where to go or what to do,” Commander Gayford said.

“Events like car break downs, issues with Government payments, or if a family member or pet needs urgent medical attention, can be difficult when the family isn’t prepared. Even things like storms causing damage to property and insurance claims can be quite stressful if partners don’t have all the details on hand,” he said.

Navy families can always call the all-hours Defence Family Helpline/National Welfare Coordination Centre (NWCC) on 1800 624 608 if they need support, referral or advice, or if they need to contact their member on deployment.

Families can also opt in to receive absence from home support calls. The support calls provide a good opportunity for family members to chat with Helpline/NWCC staff and ask any questions they might have about the support available from Defence and in their local community.

The webinar series will be held on the Zoom platform and families can download the free app from the Apple iStore or Google Play.

Follow Defence Community Organisation on social media, ForceNet Families or go to www.defence.gov.au/dco for details about the deployment webinar series or deployment support.